Grace Notes in the Desert

Grace Notes in the Desert is written for the saints of Rio Grande Presbyterian Church and the surrounding community.

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Grace Notes acknowledges we need God's grace and forgivness as much as the desert water.


God's Chrysalis?

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity!" --Psalm 133

Last month, the "Emerging Church Conference" was held in Albuquerque, sponsored by Albuquerque's Center for Contemplation and Action. I had been reading about this grass-roots, ecumenical movement, and decided to attend to learn more about it.

Over 1,000 people, representing Catholic and Protestant churches, 47 states, 8 countries, (and even one Jewish and one Orthodox congregation) attended this first-ever event. About 10 of us from Santa Fe Presbytery, also, attended.

I was interested to know why folks were there, so I asked everyone I met: "Why did you come here?" The answers ranged from "learning different worship styles from different churches"; "because I read Father Richard Rohr's* books and wanted to hear him"; "to work for social justice with other faith communities”; "to join with others in Christ to do more, together, than we can do separately."

One speaker, Phyllis Tickle, author of "The Great Emergence--How Christianity is Changing and Why", described how "every 500 years there is a change of historical proportions effecting the Church--the last being Martin Luther's Reformation.” Phyllis believes we are in the middle of the church’s next 500-year change, an historical process she refers to as ‘The Emergent Church.’

What will emerge is yet to be seen. One thing is clear: there is potential for greater works of love and faith in action as the power of God's Spirit works through the Body of Christ, the Church, us, together.

My favorite speaker at the conference was a woman from the Bronx named Alexie Torres-Fleming, who described what I thought was best about this conference, as she concluded her compelling testimony, saying:

"My mother had a dream. In her dream she saw people, outside her church, crying,'Lord, when will you come? When will you come?' And, then, again, 'Lord, when will you come?And, again, a third time, 'Lord, when will you come? When will you come?'And a little voice, a still small voice, answered, ‘When will you come? Not to be a fan, but to follow me?"

The next "Emerging Church Conference" is slated for 2010, also, in Albuquerque.

Yours in the Risen Lord,
A Pastor in the Desert

*Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest and Director of the Center for Contemplation & Action